What's the correct way to connect my active speakers to my laptop using an external sound interface?


Here's the problem:

When I plug in a ten-dollar pair of headphones into my Lenovo laptop (memory: 8GB), everything sounds great. Seriously.

When I connected my laptop to my Samsung SmartTV via an HDMI cable, I was very disappointed by the sound. So I bought a pair of Samson speakers that look like this:

enter image description here

I connected them to my laptop with a USB-RCA cable.

My opera recordings sounded just as bad on them. The high and low registers were all mangled, and when I turned up the volume, the music sounded both flat and distorted.

I added an interface that looks like this:

enter image description here

It didn't help.

What am I missing? How can I fix this?


Posted 2016-03-31T13:41:45.630

Reputation: 109

1This is one of those questions that could probably be answered in 5 minutes if someone were sitting next to you listening - to hear it only as a vague description is not going to be anywhere near as easy. – Tetsujin – 2016-03-31T14:19:29.293

@Tetsujin: I didn't say it was going to be easy. Or did I? Let me see ... No, I most certainly did not! ... Sheesh .... – Ricky – 2016-03-31T14:31:56.713

Completely agree with Tetsujin, it would probably be very easy to diagnose this in the room, but close to impossible from just a description like “_the high and low registers were all mangled_”. Can't you at least record some of the sound and post it? – leftaroundabout – 2016-04-02T19:59:55.827



Make sure you are using the correct outputs of the focusrite interface to connect to your speakers. A very common issue would be if you connected the headphone out of the interface to a line-in of the speakers. Headphone outputs carry a different (oversimplified: louder) signal than the line outs, so that could be the problem here since that would result easily in distortions. Also make sure your software player is set to a decent volume, I.e. VLC's maximum level setting distorts on my setup as well.

Hans Meiser

Posted 2016-03-31T13:41:45.630

Reputation: 183

Thank you for that. No, no headphone output. USB to the Focusrite; big-phallic-thingie from the Focusrite to the RCA - speakers. I've tried Powerpoint and VLC. VLC sounds a trifle better. But only a trifle. I tried using an equalizer. Some improvement, but the problem is the recordings are all different, and I would have to re-tweak the equalizer during the presentation, which is not a good idea if you want to hold the audience's attention. Right now I'm considering buying a PA speaker. Being desperate, you see. – Ricky – 2016-04-02T03:45:24.723

1I think you should rule out two things. First: are the speakers ok... Just connect an mp3 player / smartphone to them and check it it sounds ok. Second thing: check if the focusrite sounds ok. Try connecting it to a hifi amp /w speakers or use headphones and see if the output is OK. – Hans Meiser – 2016-04-02T05:10:13.883